Thursday, August 27, 2009

What do ya know: Obama's the Antichrist...

A friend of mine sent me this video link that makes us wonder if Obama is the antichrist. It was delightful.

Here's the argument:

1. In Luke 10:18 Jesus says he saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

2. In Hebrew, one word for lightning is baraq.

3. In Hebrew, one word for heights is bamah, a word used in Isaiah 14:12-19 of Satan.

4. The Hebrew word for "and" is O.

5. So baraq o-bamah is something like "lightning and the heavens" or "lightning from the heavens."

6. Therefore, Jesus might have been predicting in the Aramaic original of Luke 10:18, "I saw Satan as Barak Obama."

I'm going to be nice (although this post would be a lot funnier if I wasn't). But here's my response:

First, this argument seems riddled with problems, but I can't be too sarcastic, because it is not too unlike some of the ancient Jewish exegesis like we find in Philo, the rabbis, and indeed, the New Testament. I can't prove that this person isn't inspired, even though their argument seems throroughly flawed.

For one, it is a little ironic that the name Barack is actually the Semitic word that corresponds to the Hebrew, barach, which means "blessing." This isn't a stretch. It's where the word is actually from.

Secondly, it is true that the Hebrew word "and" is the letter waw attached the beginning of a word. But it is always pronounced vuh- (or wuh-) in this position (or oo when it comes before a b, m, or p). The letter only is pronounced "oh" in Hebrew when it is being used in the middle of a word as a hint that a long o goes there.

I might also add that this person is wrong to say that Aramaic is the oldest form of Hebrew. Both languages existed alongside each other as separate Semitic languages. Aramaic has the long o with waw I mentioned in the last paragraph less frequently than Hebrew does. This is because the Hebrew language did a dance called the Canaanite shift around the time of David, while Aramaic didn't.

Basically, the "O" part of the video is extremely comical. And how he gets from "and" to "from" is a great mystery. Both Aramaic and Hebrew use a preposition min- for "from." The expression "lightning from heaven" would thus, if we used baraq, most obviously be in Aramaic baraq mish-shuhmaya', which doesn't look anything like Barack Obama.

I'm having flashbacks to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Tell me any word and I'll show you how it goes back to Greek. Give me the name of any charismatic Democratic president and I'll show you how he is the antichrist. Really, everyone thus far in history who has suggested a specific name for the Antichrist has been wrong. So, basically, just don't go there. Those who do are almost certainly destined to be thought of the way I think of the now out of print book Eighty-Eight Reasons Why the Lord is Coming Back in 1988.

Isaiah 14 of course originally had nothing whatsoever to do with Satan. In context it is clearly about the human king of Babylon, although it uses poetic and hyberbolic language to describe him. Of course it is possible that Luke 10:18 was echoing Isaiah 14 understood spiritually in relation to Satan. If so, there would be some reason to think that the word "heights" was in view in Jesus' words.

Again, if bamah was used, its plural in Aramaic I think would be baman. "The heights," our local Semitist Elaine Bernius pointed out, would be bamata'. In that case, even with all these assumptions, we have Satan falling like baraq mib-bamata'. I should point out that we have no way of knowing if the Aramaic equivalents of these Hebrew words were even used in Galilee at the time, as far as I know.

Nope, doesn't really work, does it.

I don't believe you need to know Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic to hear or be a minister of God's word. But if you're not going to do the hard work to learn them, you shouldn't probably be cooking up stuff like this.


James F. McGrath said...

I posted on this twice, neither time offering a particularly serious take on it. I'm glad so many Biblical scholars with blogs seem to be addressing this!

Here are links to my posts on the topic: one and two.

Ken Schenck said...

You are, as always, a master :-)

JohnLDrury said...

For laughs, check this out:

תרשו said...

Of course he's not the Anti-Christ. But Christianity would never have grown to become a dominating force in world politics and religion were it not for its mobs. Christ himself would not have been beaten, raped and executed at Calvary were it not for them.

We have whispered to the ignorant and the faithless among you, and it's worked: The followers of Jesus favor the death penalty, justify the assassinations of abortion doctors and have been goaded back into a culture of white supremacy so extreme that they threaten their own president.

Christ winning the Battle of Armageddon is by no means a foregone conclusion as the Bible boasts. Were that the case, the Church would have never been our most reliable mob.